Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Weekend

Christmas this year was pretty much perfect. I had a week of vacation before the holiday weekend which gave me plenty of time for all the preparations without feeling stressed. I also didn't get stressed at all because I didn't let myself get stressed at all. I was determined to have an easy, smooth, relaxing holiday weekend. And it was.

Monday I finished my shopping and didn't even mind standing in line which I only had to do a few times. Besides that, waiting in line is a perfect time to watch people, one of my favorite past times. Tuesday I cleaned house and played with the kids. Wednesday I wrapped presents and played some more. Thursday Arrty and I split up the kids and took them shopping. Adam chose to spend his own money on a gift for me. He was determined to get me something perfect. (And he did. The new Lady Antebellum cd which I love! He's a very thoughtful kid.) Then Thursday night I watched Christmas movies with some of my favorite girls who could hardly believe that it was my first time seeing "A Christmas Story." (Thanks, Katrina.) Friday was spent making goodies (lemon bars, cream cheese drops, fudge, chocolate covered pretzels), finishing up the wrapping, and making a pre-Christmas dinner (ham, augratin potatoes, green beans, apple asiago bread). And all that was done with very minimal, if any stress. Aaahhh.

Saturday we went over to Mom and Dad's house for lunch (West Virginia sandwiches, homemade fries, and cookies for dessert). Then we opened our traditional Christmas Eve gift--pajamas. Since we were getting ready to go to church, the kids held their pajamas in front of them instead of wearing them in the annual "jammies in front of the tree" picture. Then we went with the family to their church's Christmas Eve service. It was nice to get to sing and worship with Mom, Dad, and my sister and her family. Then we went back to Mom and Dad's for cookies and tea. Then to our congregation's first annual Christmas Eve service. It was lovely. I enjoyed it very much. After all that, it was still before 6:00, so Arrty drove us around town to see Christmas lights. There were lots of great displays, but my favorite was the one in a local neighborhood that played to music on the radio. It was very entertaining. Then we headed home for snacks and animated Christmas movies. It was a great day.

Sunday morning we got up early and opened stockings and presents. The kids were thrilled and that means I was, too. This was the first year Julianna has really been able to participate in the whole process. It was so fun watching her open presents and appreciate each one. She was laughing and jumping and absolutely loved every minute! It was different this year with the boys. They are at an age where they've kind of outgrown most toys. So they got video games, movies, and books. Which they liked a lot, but I so missed the scattering of Transformers and Legos and Matchbox cars. But I did enjoy the scattering of Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop and Fur Real pets. After presents we ate egg nog french toast and ham. (Yes, I made egg nog french toast.) Then we all got ready and headed into town for church services. (That made three times to church in two days. The kids were a little overwhelmed with that prospect when we told them the plans for the weekend. And, honestly, I was, too. But it turned out to be such a blessing. It was a great way to keep Jesus at the center of the holiday.)

After church, we went back to Mom and Dad's. We had lasagna, salad, and Ada's homemade bread sticks for lunch. Even though some people around the table thought it was a weird Christmas meal, I loved it. It was simple and yummy. After a record breaking fast clean up, we all gathered in the moose room to open presents. Dad and Mom had a special treat in store for us. They had planned to share a childhood Christmas memory with us. As they told their stories, the room was silent as all eyes and ears were on Grandma and Pappy. Their stories were wonderful and will make for a good blog post someday. Ada had suggested that we open gifts one at a time so everyone could see what everyone else got instead of a free-for-all like last year. So we went around the room from youngest to oldest and opened gifts. It went amazingly smoothly and even Julianna and Abby were very patient while waiting their turn. Only one gift was opened out of turn when one of Dad's "fell off" the couch and mysteriously came open. It was all very suspicious, if you ask me. It took awhile for 6 adults and 6 kids to open several gifts each, but it was well worth it to see the faces on all the recipients as they opened their gifts. Every one was happy and overwhelmed with all the gifts...especially when we had a $10 limit for the grown ups. (Amazingly, we all won, earned, or were given things that we gave to others in the family...books, gift cards, movies, and I even got a beach blanket and umbrella from mom. The creativity of sticking to this new limit was one of my favorite parts of the day.) After we picked up all the paper and boxes, the boys took their new air-soft guns outside to shoot, Abby vacuumed with her new mini pink vacuum, Julianna got all dressed up in her new princess dress up clothes, and Asher watched it all looking adorable as usual. After a little more clean-up and visiting we headed home.

Christmas night we watched movies and played and just kind of soaked it all in. It was an amazing weekend. So peaceful and full of love. And so full of Jesus. Just as it should be. A lot of Jesus and a lot of family with a few gifts and some really good food thrown in for good measure. Hope yours was just as merry.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blessed Sunday

Christmas vacation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reason for the Season

I've always shied away from cards and gifts that say "Jesus is the reason for the season." Not that there's anything wrong with that saying. I guess I just feel like everybody knows it already. It's the celebration of his birthday after all. I don't need my Christmas cards to remind anyone of that. But over the last few weeks, I've needed reminding myself. I had lost sight of the reason for the season. I was preoccupied with what my kids would like to find under the tree and the fact that I wouldn't be able to buy every single thing on their lists. But the sad thing is, their lists were in my head. The boys have asked for only a few things...airsoft guns, a game for their DS, and a silver dollar (they both collect coins). And Julianna, for the last several weeks, only wants "a dog that walks." (Luckily she means a toy and not a real dog. We already have two of those.) But my list was full of electronics for the boys and sparkly, pink things for Jules. And I was beating myself up over the fact that I couldn't provide all their (well, my) heart's desires. Until last week when I voiced my concerns to my friend Kathy. She didn't say much, but her just listening and me being able to share it, helped so much. And for the last several days, God's been reminding me of the reason, His reason, for the season. Like when my sister told me the story of a 6th grader at a local middle school asking for laundry detergent, toilet paper, and dishes and silverware for her family on her Christmas wish list. And the outpouring of support for that child and others. And when I went to the church giving tree to pick a child for my class to support and received two gifts the very next day from the parents of my students. And I'm sure that by Friday, our little one year old boy who likes balls and puzzles will be well supported by all of the families in our class. And then there's the fact that our school (with 50 students) has collected well over 100 books to donate to Books for Tots. Giving, sharing, loving. That's the reason we're here. That's the reason for this season and every season.

So on Christmas morning, my kids will be spoiled because not only will they have a warm house and clean clothes and an amazing Christmas meal, they will each have three lovely gifts and a stocking full of treats. They will have two loving parents who are willing and able to provide for them. They will have smiles on their faces not just because they are unwrapping presents, but because they have people and a place that make them feel safe and loved. And they will know, because their mommy knows, the reason for the season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Books, Burgers, and Trader Joe's

I went to the Scholastic Book Warehouse sale yesterday. If you've never been to the book warehouse and are a book lover, you should go. It's literally a warehouse full of books. Shelves from the floor to tall enough that I have to stand on my tiptoes to reach the highest one. (And yes, I know that's not that high. But still.) You can find everything from board books for the youngest reader to kid's picture books to young adult lit to adult best sellers. With some pencils and posters and bookmarks thrown in for good measure. And right now almost everything is 50-80% off. To give you a little perspective, Kathy and I were in the warehouse for 3 hours. 3 hours. Granted we go up and down every aisle (sometimes twice) and pick up anything that looks remotely interesting and read the back. And I couldn't help but think, "So many books, so little time." It would take me year to read all the books I picked up and thought, "Oh, this looks good." (I chose 4 including The Reading Promise.)

During this trip we were looking for books for our classrooms, Christmas gifts, and Books for Tots*. The best deal is the "Build-a-Box." For $24.95 you get all the books you can pack into the provided box. The books for this are usually older or something they have an overabundance of, but there are still lots of good finds. The average person can probably pack around $100 worth of books in the box. Kathy can pack $300 worth of books into the box. That's why I go with her. So for 25 bucks I got at least 20 books for Books for Tots with a few extras for stocking stuffers for my students and kids thrown in for good measure.

After our book shopping, we were hungry. We had decided to go to Wolffy's, a 50s themed hamburger joint. The lady in Kathy's phone told us how to get there, but when we got there, it was gone. Hmmm, we were just there...12 years ago. So we decided to eat later and go on to our next destination, Trader Joe's. The phone lady led us right to Trader Joe's and guess what was right next to it! Hogan's, a 50s themed hamburger joint! We happily went in and ordered. Kathy got the bacon cheeseburger and a chocolate shake and I got the bleu cheese burger with bacon and a hot chocolate with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles. (I was freezing!) The food was yummy and the service was good and the music was wonderfully retro.

Then to Trader Joe's we went. Neither of us had ever been there, so it was a fun little adventure to explore all the quirky, unique items. And the employees seemed thrilled to be there and were so friendly and helpful. I bought a few snacks and treats for my family and a few stocking stuffers. Then we headed for home. We were happy with our book finds, full of yummy food, and thrilled that we got the last four boxes of Trader Joe's Candy Cane Coal to be found in the Pacific Northwest. It was really fun. And a much needed break from real life for me. I think this little excursion could easily become a new tradition.

*Our school is collecting books for Books for Tots until Thursday, December 15th. Our goal is 150 books, so if you'd like to donate, just drop them off and we'll add them to our collection. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wednesday WORD

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~Luke 2:8-12

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Every year at this time I have a dilemma. It's this. Do I do a gift exchange in my class? Some teachers do. Some teachers have a book exchange. Some do treat bags and everyone brings a little something for everyone else. I can never decide what to do. It's really fun for the kids to bring a gift for a classmate. They love the giving. And it's fun for them to get a little toy from someone else. In the past, when I've had a gift exchange, I've had all the boys bring something for a boy and the girls bring something for a girl with a $5 limit. (I always bring a couple of wrapped gifts in case someone forgets.) It's always been fun with a few exceptions of kids not being happy with their gift or wanting what someone else got. But is a traditional gift exchage outdated? Unwanted? Silly? What do I do. Here are my options.

A. Traditional gift exchange with $5 limit.
B. Book exchange. (I give my students a book every year no matter what we do.)
C. Treat bags with everyone contributing small treats for each other.
D. No gifts exchanged. Just a party with treats and games.
E. None of the above. (Share your ideas.)

What do you think?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

10 Things Thursday

10 things you can find at our annual CCS Craft and Gift Fair this Saturday.*

1. This Stephen Lyman "Moonlit Flight on Christmas Night" signed and numbered print. I've had it for years and have never been able to frame it or display it. Even though I love it, I'd love even more for someone who would enjoy it more to have it. (And I really hope to sell it so that I have some money for Christmas shopping.)
2. Bubble bath. Avon bubble bath. I have a few craft fair customers who come every year and buy bubble bath.
3. Jewelry. Avon and Silpada along with others.
4. Stocking stuffers. Lots at my booth and even more at others.
5. Rice bags. You know. The wonderful ones that you can heat up in the microwave to keep you warm on those cold, winter nights.
6. Photography. A budding photographer friend will be taking shots with and without props. A great time to get those Christmas card photos. One pose will be provided free as a way to promote her new business.
7. Booths to benefit World Vision supporting children sponsored by our school's classes.
8. Yummy baked goods. Our PTO is famous for their amazing bake sale booth.
9. Lunch. Mr. D. is cooking up a full turkey meal available in the kitchen. I know you just finished off your turkey from last week, so you're bound to be ready for some more.
10. 35+ vendor booths selling a huge variety of handmade crafts and gift items. You can get all your holiday shopping done in one stop!

Bonus: Me! I'll be in booth #14. Stop by and say hello.

*Coeur d'Alene Christian School on the corner of 4th and Hanley.